Rediscovering lost techniques for a sculptural use.
On going research project learning how to make my own iron from ore.
It is easy to forget how hard the process would have been to create a bloom of iron. I enjoy challenging my self within my art practice, and learning new skills to develop as a maker. I have become fascinated by revisiting ancient techniques. Being able to control the process of making from start to finish, adds another layer to finished work, both conceptually and through the physical qualities of the hand made steel.
I have been awarded a grant by the Winston Churchill Trust to study rediscovering ancient techniques for a sculptural use. These photos document my furnaces at the Furnace Festival in Ireland. I learnt to make steel from ore which allows a major new area of exploration in my work.
Karesansuei or Japanese rock gardens create a stylized landscape through carefully composed arrangements of rocks and gravel. They were intended to imitate the essence of nature and to serve as an aid to meditation for monks when raking.
The second part of my WCMT funding took me to Japan where I spent two months training with iron making masters, collecting and smelting my own steel from iron sand. Inspired by a visit to the Adachi gardens and the training I was receiving working with a sword-smith, I decided to use the handmade steel to make five blades.
This is still a work in progress, eventually each blade will be cut up in to three pieces and displayed as part of five miniature Karesansuei, complete with hand forged tools for the viewer to rake the iron sand which surrounds each. I have blended tradition, knowledge and personal along with the technical skills I have spent the past five years learning. I believe this marks an exciting new direction in my work.